Grandparents have historically played a role in educating black children

Lillie Mae Allen Young was born in the early 1900s. She was the second youngest child next to her brother who lived almost 105 years old. Mrs. Young raised her grandson who became a first generation college graduate from a historically Black university but also an entrepreneur. 

Lillie and Frank Hurst had a similar experience as Mrs. Young. They adopted their granddaughter and raised her during the time era of the Jackson 5 and Civil Rights. Their granddaughter also went on to become a first generation college graduate from a historically Black university and was a 30+ year retired educator. 

My parents’ story of being raised by their grandparents, both named Lillie, is the passion behind my advocacy for grandparents in Atlanta raising school-aged children. 

I have learned throughout my work as a family engagement advocate that there are a lot of children in public schools being raised by grandparents. 

Historically, if a parent passes away, is enlisted, perhaps a truck driver or other profession that causes the parent(s) to travel extensively, mentally disabled, battles drug addiction, or is simply unfit to raise children, grandparents are there to pick up the pieces. 

In Black households, it’s not uncommon for grandma to live with the family or the family with her. It’s not uncommon for grandparents to live down the street, around the corner, or in the next community. Grandparents serve as leaders in our local churches, run food community food markets, volunteer, clean up our communities, and most importantly volunteer at our schools. 

Grandparents play an intricate role improving a child’s academic performance especially in young developmental years. Reading to a child, spending quality time with them, and allowing them to grow and explore are areas grandparents can provide support. 

Lillie’s Foundation works to support several APS schools with grandparents based initiatives and programming. It’s imperative for grandparents to be supported in their work in helping provide Black children with a quality and equitable education.